Getting an International Experience Canada Visa

My wish to go to Canada for work and travelling already started early into my stay in Hungary - and I already mentioned a few things about it in my post back then about the Day-trip to Vienna.

Now, after reaching Canada successfully, I would like to go a little more into detail about what I did to get my visa.

Because I think one of the main reasons keeping young travellers away from trips like the one I do now is feeling intimidated by the visa application process. But the process is a lot easier than it looks at first glance.

Possibilities with the International Experience Canada

The International Experience Canada (short IEC) is Canada’s program for young work & travellers, offering different visa with little effort that you can apply to - inlcuding the Young Professionals program, the International Co-op initiative and of course the Working Holiday I am taking part in.

The Canadian government website or the part dedicated to immigration offers a great overview where you can check with just a few clicks what opportunities Canada offers for youth for your country (because not all countries offer all kinds of visa). This is the first step to find out if you are eligible for the IEC.

If the wanted visa is available, you should prepare as many documents before starting the application process as possible. Because once you apply and get invited, everything starts being on a deadline.

Preparing the necessary documents

The documents you need for the application are:

Except for the familial background information (which is just information about your relationship status and the jobs of your parents), whose template you get during the application process, all the documents can be prepared before applying.

The most time consuming ones are probably the police certificates, especially if you have lived in more than one country, like me. If you are unsure how to get a police certificate for your country, the fastest way to find out is usually an internet search. If you apply for a police certificate while not being in the country you apply it for (at least that’s how they handle it in Germany), you have to go to a consulate or embassy to let them confirm your data.

During the application process some proof that you applied for the police certificate is enough in the beginning, but they don’t hand the port of entry letter to you before you have uploaded the police certificates, too. And with Canada having English and French as official languages, the certificates have to be offered with an attested translation into one of these languages.

An attested translation is a translation that has not been done by yourself and has been certified to be true by a - preferably Canadian - lawyer. There are a few translation offices in Canada specialising on immigration documents, and they send their copies of attested translation both by e-mail and by regular mail. I used the services of Docbase Canada to get my translations - if I remember correctly, this organisation was suggested to me during the application process.

An up-to-date curriculum vitae is something you should have anyway, and the CV can also be translated by yourself, without certification, if you trust your English skills well enough.

The application process for the visa

If you have all the documents you need, you can start applying with a clean consciousness. That means first to put your name into the pool they draw the invitees from - the pool is the full amount of visa offered to your country (when I applied, there were about 4000 Working Holiday Visa for Germany). It says that the picks are random and if you put your name in earlier in the year (the pool resets between November and December) the chances are higher of receiving an invitation.

I put my name in in January and got my invitation to apply about a week later.

Once you receive the invitation, you have ten days to accept, then another twenty days to upload all the documents. If the documents are uploaded and the application ready to be send in, you have to pay the visa fees (about 230-330 CAD, has to be payed by credit card). Already included in this price is the fee for the biometric data that you have to get recorded by the Canadian embassy. In Germany, Düsseldorf and Berlin both have a consulate for that, but for some areas in Germany, Vienna is probably closer.

You have thirty days to visit one of the embassies and let them record your biometric information. After that, you can only wait.

If you did not send in the police certificates during the first steps of application, now is the time to send in both the originals and the translations

And once all documents are in order, you finally get the port-of-entry letter, which you can use to present it at the Canadian border to get your work permit handed out to you.

The canadian immigration department also made a nice graphic to demonstrate the necessary steps in a prettier fasion: IEC Online Application Process


All in all the application process cost me something between 350-400 € - included in this are the fee for the biometric data, the travel costs to the embassies (Canadian embassy Vienna, German Embassy Budapest) and the application fees for the police certificate and the translation. Not included is the membership price for, which is the website for work & travellers like me - you can find jobs and volunteer positions abroad there.

The application process took about three and a half months for me, starting in the middle of January with the application until holding the Port of entry letter in the beginning of April. What took the longest time here was waiting for the police certificates to arrive, because I applied for them after already starting the application process.

I don’t know if the process has changed in any way due to Corona, waiting queues have surely gotten longer and I heard they are giving out less visa now, too. But if you are interested in going for work & travelling and are thinking about applying for a visa - don’t be intimidated! Be aware of what you need and have to do and go for it. It is definitely worth the effort.

« Back to Overview